World Oceans Day, Sustainable Development Goal 12 and furniture design from marine plastic

Ever since 8 June 2008, the UN has held an annual event to honour the world’s oceans and to spread knowledge of the impact that humans have on our oceans. Vestre's contribution to safeguarding and celebrating the world’s oceans is the design bench COAST – the world’s first bench made from ‘ownerless’ marine plastic. The marine plastic we use is a material that can only be leased.

A threat to vital ocean resources

World Oceans Day is a day intended to focus attention on our oceans and the marine ecosystem. Oceans regulate the climate, provide food for millions of people, produce oxygen, are home to a huge number of species and give us medicines and knowledge. However, they are being destroyed by pollution, for example in the form of plastic waste. There are currently around 150 million tonnes of plastic floating in our oceans – and every year this increases by approximately 8 million tonnes.

At the same time, we recycle far too little plastic material. In Europe, just under a third of the annual plastic waste of around 27 million tonnes is recycled, in water and on land. In the Mediterranean Sea, which is an inland sea with considerable industry, intensive marine traffic and 200 million tourists every year, 95 percent of the rubbish on the beaches and in the water is made of plastic.

From ‘ownerless’ plastic to design furniture

Vestre works actively on 9 of the UN’s sustainable development goals. As part of this process, in collaboration with design manufacturer Ope and environmental activist Rune Gaasø, we have founded the company Ogoori. Ogoori’s aim is to clean up our oceans of plastic waste, recycle it and use it in design furniture. A result of this work is the bench COAST, with a seating surface that is entirely made from ownerless marine plastic. COAST supports the UN’s 12th sustainable development goal, which focus on responsible use and production.

Ownerless plastic instead of surplus from industry

‘Ownerless’ plastic is plastic material that has been discarded in the ocean and has thereafter drifted for a long time before washing up along the coastline. The plastic in our COAST bench differs from similar products, in that we have used ownerless ocean plastic instead of surplus plastic, or plastic that comes from managed waste handling systems. A significant part of the plastic used by Vestre is collected by volunteers, among them the organisation In The Same Boat, and the origin and traceability of the plastic is secured via block chain technology from Empower.

From water to land

The framework of COAST is made from hot-dip galvanised and powder coated steel; the seat surface is made from plastic picked up from Norwegian beaches. COAST is a solid bench, built to endure outdoor use in marine environments.

Allan Hagerup, the designer of the bench, explains that product development has largely been about the plastic itself and the story behind it. This has influenced both the design expression and the design process:

“I wanted to create a bench that was made to be placed along the coastline. You can sit on the bench and look across the sea, and reflect on the journey that this plastic has taken.”

A controlled cycle

The COAST bench is Vestre's first product containing “Material as a Service”, which means that we lease the plastic material. Leasing means that recycling is no longer an alternative – it is an integrated part of the model.

When the need arises to replace the material, or when the lease period expires, it must be delivered back to Ogoori, so that they can recycle it into another product. COAST is therefore designed so that it is easy to remove the plastic laths from the bench.

“You have to rent the material. In this way we ensure that it will never end up as waste again”, says Jan Christian Vestre, CEO of Vestre.

The material is composed of various types of plastic, which gives it an additional dimension. The first prototype of COAST was made by mixing colours based on whatever was available.

“We believe that this material will be made like this also in the future. I think it is a very beautiful material, with a depth that reminds one of the ocean”, says Allan Hagerup.

Saving the oceans. A little.

The world is currently in a transition period, and Vestre hopes that Ogoori can act as a showcase for how the correlation between growth and resource consumption can be broken. The development of Ogoori will be important for the rest of Vestre’s work and can hopefully inspire other industry players too. At Vestre we firmly believe that everyone can save the world. A little. However, more help is needed, from more of us.

Would you like further information about COAST? Contact us here.